How to Connect With an Introvert
For those of you who read this blog but do not know me personally, let me make something clear…
I am not an introvert.
Though I do not always enjoy being the middle of the crowd, I do enjoy being around people. I love backpacking. The only thing better than backpacking is backpacking with somebody else. I have spent quite a few hours by myself sitting in the woods on hunting trips, but I would much rather spend that time sitting in the woods with somebody else. I have found that I enjoy bird hunting more than big game hunting because it is a more social event. Drawback… you have to kill a lot of birds to equal a deer.
I love who I am.
I love how I am.
There are still things about me that need to mature and develop, but on the whole… I love being me.
I have four kids. When they were very young, they were your typical toddlers. Into everything, running around, making noise, making a mess, spontaneous. Our house seemed to vibrate constantly with the activity and noise that simmered perpetually within the walls. My home is not a safe place for an introvert. I understand that and so, when I am hanging out with an introvert, I meet with them outside of my home. We meet somewhere quiet… like the mall…
I have all these ideas about ways to raise my kids. I have these ideas about things to do in order to communicate just how much I love them and to really connect with them in a meaningful and intimate manner.
It never crossed my mind that any of my kids would turn out to be a calm, quiet, introvert.
What do I do with that?
How on earth do I communicate my love to a little girl who would like to just sit and look at a book… or look at art!
How did this happen?
On a more serious note, it really is pretty fascinating to see the budding personalities coming out of my kids. My oldest is displaying her individual personality more and more. The girl loves art. We have a friend of ours who graduated with an art degree teaching private art lessons to my daughter. I have found myself reading blogs from artists, both Christian and non, in order to broaden my ability to appreciate the same things my daughter appreciates.
Instead of going places and doing things with her, I have started making it a point to simply sit next to her. We sit down to watch a movie and I invite her to sit next to me. I try to make it a point to have her sit in my lap when I read books to them instead of always letting the toddlers sit on my lap. I have started paying closer attention to which kids are running around downstairs and when I don’t see her, instead of calling her down to see what is wrong, I go upstairs just to sit on the floor of her bedroom with her and make small talk.
I take each of my kids to breakfast on Sunday mornings. The oldest gets the first Sunday of the month, the youngest gets the last. One of my kids wants to go to a busy sit down style place that serves great pancakes. My oldest prefers to buy a donut and a juice in a grocery store and sit in the front of our car to eat. I used to ask her why she preferred to sit in the car instead of going to a restaurant. I do not ask any more.
I know she values these moments with me and I know they are good for her, good for me, and good for our relationship.
I have no clue how to evaluate these moments. I see these times through my own perspective as an extrovert. If I am comfortable, I am talking or doing, not sitting and stewing. So when I sit with my daughter and we just sit there… something feels wrong. When I ask a question and get a little short answer, I feel as though something is wrong. I believe that things are not wrong, but that is how it feels.
It makes it very difficult to relax and just enjoy being with her when everything in me is convinced that something is wrong. She must be upset with me. I have to have hurt her feelings in order for her to sit so quietly for so long.
As I sit and analyze this, my questions tend to drift from wanting to connect with her to wanting to diagnose the break in our relationship. It is so difficult to diagnose a problem that is not there.
I love my little girl and I know she loves me.
But I really wish I could figure out how to connect with her, and her introverted little soul.